South Africa’s women will be making their second appearance at the Women’s Olympic Football Tournament. At London 2012, Banyana Banyana – as the team is affectionately known – failed to progress beyond the group stage, losing their opening game against Sweden 4-1 but managing to score their first-ever Olympic goal in the process. A 3-0 defeat against Canada in their second game saw the team all-but eliminated ahead of their final match, where they secured a morale-boosting goalless draw against Japan. Japan and Canada going on to secure the silver and bronze medals respectively, is an indication just how competitive the group was.
The first hurdle South Africa faced en route to Rio was Gabon, who they managed to overcome easily, winning 8-2 on aggregate following a 3-2 victory in Libreville and a 5-0 rout at home. The next round proved much more difficult as Kenya managed to restrict the South Africans to a narrow 1-0 win in Johannesburg in the first leg. But a goal from Banyana's Rhoda Muadlazi midway through the first half in Kenya settled the tie, which ended with an aggregate score of 2-0. Once in the play-off round they faced one of the continent’s powerhouses of women’s football in Equatorial Guinea. A goalless draw in South Africa saw the advantage firmly on the side of the Equatoguineans, but it was Jermaine Seoposenwe who scored the only goal of the second leg to give South Africa a historic 1-0 victory and a place in Rio.
53-year-old Vera Pauw is a well-travelled Dutch coach, who has been in charge of four different national teams. The former Netherlands international started her coaching career with Scotland before moving on to her native country. She achieved some success with the Oranje, seeing them through to the semi-finals of the European championships for the first time in their history. In 2011 the Russian federation made her first the coach of the national team and then the technical director. In 2014, the South African Football Association came calling and Pauw has been in charge of Banyana Banyana since.
Jermaine Seoposenwe, Janine Van Wyk, Amanda Dlamini, Roxanne Barker
5 – The number of goals Jermaine Seoposenwe scored for her side in the six matches they played during the qualification tournament. The USA-based striker scored twice in both legs against Gabon and then grabbed the all-important goal in Bata against Equatorial Guinea.